Leaders vow cooperation in expansion

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

City and county officials exchanged mutual assurances Wednesdaythat they would work together through the annexation transitionperiod, but leaders were able to trade very little hard informationon expansion plans.

“We’re not supposed to be talking specifics yet, but we areprepared to begin providing services May 6,” said Mayor BobMassengill.

Due to the still pending litigation, the city cannot talk aboutspecifics until the annexation becomes official April 26, he said.However, a court filing by the Citizens Against Annexation lateWednesday afternoon could delay that date even further.

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The group filed a motion asking for more time to decide whetherthey would seek a rehearing on the state Supreme Court’s ruling. Itwas initially given 14 days to respond.

“This is the reason we knew we had to be vague about what we aregoing to do,” said City Attorney Joe Fernald after the objectorsfiled their motion. “The board’s decision all along has been thatwe will not speculate. It’s not a final judgment until it’sfinal.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, the city pledged to work closelywith the county during the transition and to keep county leadersapprised of any pertinent information.

“Good communication between the county and city boards will makethis work,” Massengill said.

The mayor touted the cooperation among officials in the past inareas like Linbrook Business Park and other projects and said theannexation will be no different. The two entities will worktogether to bring about the most desirable results.

“Brookhaven and Lincoln County are unique,” he said. “We’ve goneto Washington together and asked for the same things. Mostcommunities don’t do that and that helps separate us from everyoneelse. If we want this community to be the shining star in southwestMississippi, it will take both governments working together.”

Massengill also addressed some concerns mentioned during ameeting of the board of supervisors Monday.

“Let me assure you no decision will be made by us on garbageuntil we talk to you,” he said. “We’re not going to do anythingthat puts you or the city in a bad light. We need your help. Weneed your cooperation. And I know we’re going to get it.”

The mayor also addressed a road in District Five that SupervisorGary Walker had expressed some concern about during Monday’s boardmeeting. Field Lark Lane has been scheduled for a bridgereplacement project.

“That’s been years in coming and we do need to get together onthat,” Massengill said.

District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said he hadheard worries from some residents that they would be required toshut down their water wells and transfer to city water once theannexation is complete. Massengill said that was not true.

“This is a huge geographic area coming into the city and wewon’t be able to provide water services to everyone immediately,”he said. “Even when we can, we can’t tell them to stop gettingwater from a well, although we hope they would.”

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson said he washearing concerns about whether the city would be able to maintainthe appearance of roads in outlying areas by continuing thecounty’s bush-hogging program. He was assured the city would doso.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron also had road concerns. Heasked if supervisors intended to overlay certain roads he inspectedprior to their being taken in by the city.

Wilson admitted he had two roads in his district that would betaken in and he was undecided on his course of action.

“I know there are two areas that I’m supposed to pave, but dueto the fact they’re going to the city I just don’t know,” hesaid.

Williamson said the mayor “touched our concerns. There’s a lotof rumors.”

Massengill admitted there would likely be glitches during thetransition. Brookhaven’s last annexation was in 1973 and most townsits size have annexed land two or three times since then.

The scale of Brookhaven’s annexation after such a long periodwill be complicated, Massengill said, but he added that the unityof public officials here should offset many of them.

District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts agreed.

“There’s no reason why it can’t be smooth,” he said.

Some of the responsibilities will be shared during thetransition and Massengill complimented the volunteer firedepartments for their spirit of cooperation.

“They have done an outstanding job in the past and we hope theywill continue to operate with us,” he said.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson was also complimentary ofthe sheriff’s department.

“They came to me and offered their support,” he said.